Alivereti Raka scored three times as Clermont Auvergne dominated the rescheduled Pool 2 encounter, thrashing defending champions Saracens 46-14 at Allianz Park.
In Auvergne’s rather brusque statement preceding this encounter, Les Jaunards said that they would use the past 24 hours as motivation and the visitors certainly delivered on that front.
Raka was the one to do the damage, touching down for a hat-trick inside 24 minutes which gave them a 21-0 buffer, before the Englishmen hit back when referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try.
Morgan Parra’s penalty kept the home team at arm’s length, however, and Flip van der Merwe’s try of the season contender in the second half effectively secured the victory.
Sarries were simply outplayed throughout and Wesley Fofana and Isaia Toeava completed a remarkable victory to condemn the Premiership team to a sixth consecutive defeat.
The hosts did get a consolation score through George Kruis but it has been an embarrassing couple of days for the Londoners.
On the other hand, Franck Azema’s men were outstanding and set the standards early on, going 7-0 ahead via Raka, who proved impossible to stop from close range after evading a poor tackle from Jamie George.
It was an opening try that rather summed up the contest. Auvergne were evidently fired up but the two-time European champions were absolutely atrocious in defence, missing a number of one-on-ones.
Sarries are usually so mentally tough that they can recover from poor starts but it began to affect even their most calm and collected individuals.
When Owen Farrell missed touch from a penalty, it allowed the French outfit to counter-attack and once again Raka was the one to benefit, barrelling his way through a porous rearguard.
Mark McCall’s team were shell-shocked and they conceded for a third time as George, who had a match to forget, missed another crucial tackle to let Clermont’s Fijian-born wing in for his hat-trick.
To their credit, they managed to respond when Fritz Lee illegally collapsed a maul, resulting in a penalty try and yellow card, but the comeback never materialised.
Auvergne rode out that sin-bin period and, at the start of the second half, they killed off the game with a truly brilliant score instigated by that man Raka. He beat several would-be tacklers, running fully 60 metres before off-loading to Van der Merwe, who merely had to cross the whitewash unopposed.
Saracens had gone mentally and the visitors could enjoy themselves. Although they only added two further tries, with Fofana and Toeava going over, it was enough to cause the hosts more pain.
Kruis touched down for Sarries late on but it was an awful evening for the English club.
Tries: Penalty try, Kruis
Tries: Raka 3, Van der Merwe, Fofana, Toeava
Cons: Parra 5
Pens: Parra 2
Yellow Card: Lee